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Once Upon a Winery – Briar Rose

Briar Rose Entry
Sometimes fairytales do come true.  All images © M.S. Ross
Once upon a time, there was a verdant valley ripe with magical vines that produced a highly prized fruit sought after by many. Here, the golden glow of the late afternoon sun streamed across rolling green hills, alighting softly upon a thatched-roof cottage perched on a secreted knoll. People from near and far gathered at this cottage to celebrate the nectar of the fruit, enjoy delicious food and share the company of good friends.

That once upon a time is right now, and the cottage is the home of Briar Rose Winery, a boutique winery tucked away in a quiet, hidden locale within Temecula Valley’s Wine Country. Known for its premium, small-lot wines, Briar Rose Winery welcomes visitors by appointment only, reserving its beautiful grounds for those discriminating guests interested in finding enchantment off the beaten path. Where else can you taste handcrafted artisan wines in a handcrafted artisan cottage?

Originally built by F. Beldon Fields, a contractor who helped bring the fantastic visions of Disney’s Imagineers into reality, the main structure on the grounds is made to resemble Snow White’s cottage. The surrounding gardens, lush with roses, bougainvilleas and other blossoms, complete the charming effect. As if that’s not reason enough to come visit this hidden jewel, owners Les and Dorian Linkogle have recently announced their new Friday Night Sunset event series.

Open to the public by reservation, the Friday Night Sunset Events are designed as opportunties for wine lovers to break bread together, enjoy live music, fine wines and stunning sunsets, all while helping to raise funds for a worthy cause.  These events are planned to be held approximately every two weeks. The series kicked off on July 22nd. On that fine Friday, a small combo group named Trio du Jour played soft jazz and blues tunes while patrons sipped wine and shared meals, laughter and good conversation in this airy courtyard. The patio heaters thoughtfully standing by weren’t used, as the temperature was just right for this outdoor event.

The first stop for guests was the outdoor wine bar. As lead server Thomas poured from some of Briar Rose’s finest selections, he shared about the unique bottling process used by the winery. He said that the wines at Briar Rose are not filtered using methods typically used by most wineries, but by using UV rays to kill off all the bacteria, a necessary step in bottling. This enables Briar Rose to label its wine as “unfiltered,” yet makes the wine perfectly safe for consumption.

Dinner is served

Our table enjoyed the 2008 Estate Zinfandel and the 2004 Private Reserve Petit Verdot. Each red with its own personality, both offered smooth yet robust flavors. The Estate Zinfandel shared deep fruity notes in its taste, while the Petit Verdot coupled deep fruitiness with a hint of spice and pepper.  The Briar Rose label also offers Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, a fruity Sangiovese and a Tuscan blend. Whites include a Viognier and a FumeRose, and a bubbly surprise enchantingly called “Talking Frog.”  No promises, however, that kissing the bottle will turn you into a prince!

With wine selections in hand, guests made their way to dainty tables dotting the quaint courtyard. Soon, waitresses arrived at the tables, delivering an outdoor summer meal to the wine club members and non-member guests. That night’s menu featured hamburgers of lightly spiced meat stuffed with Swiss and cheddar cheeses. Guests could pile their burgers high with add-ons offered at the nearby side table. In addition to the basic condiment spreads were sautéed mushrooms and onions, raw red onion slices, fresh leaf lettuce, pickles and tomatoes. Guests built their own burgers to satisfy their personal palates. Two side dishes complemented the burgers. A delightful penne pasta salad with olives, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots shared  the spotlight with a slightly sweet cole slaw made with shredded cabbage, chunks of fresh green apple and thin slices of almond for extra crunch. Delish!

Sunset at Briar Rose

The gorgeous sunset seen from Briar Rose.

Les Linkogle stepped up briefly on stage to welcome guests and announce that a portion of the evening’s proceeds would benefit the Veterans’s Administration, a cause near and dear to Linkogle’s heart.  Briar Rose Winery has participated in fundraising events before, benefitting the military or women and children, but this series in the first opened to non-wine club members. The next Friday Night Sunset event is scheduled to take place on August 5th, with the beneficiary to be announced. Tickets and more details are available on the winery’s website, BriarRoseWinery.com

If you have ever dreamed of walking into a fairy tale, your dreams can come true at Briar Rose Winery. While you’re at it, join the winery for one of its upcoming benefit events, so that you might help someone else’s dream come true, too.

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